Smartphones in Research & Engineering

Something we hadn't quite anticipated when we developed Physics Toolbox was that its popularity among researchers, engineers, and other curious adults would surpass the use by secondary and higher education communities. Or, at least this is what data suggests from the voluntary survey we offer to anyone who contacts us. What we are excited about is that the very same tool that students use in high school might still be relevant and useful by the stage in which they enter the workforce.

Smartphones as research tools is not unprecedented. As early as 2010, an editorial in Nature Methods described their potential. A recent post from Elsevier provides a sample listing of articles from researchers who used smartphones to study the environment, health, space, smart cities and society, and technical subjects.

To pique your interest about what kinds of things people are using Physics Toolbox for, check out some of the articles below:

Biomechanics and Robotics: Accelerometers are helpful in determining how a body reacts to a push. The "recovery" from a push is complex, and involves the body's ability to re-calibrate and balance. Such studies are important for robotics as well as for elderly who are more prone to deadly falls.

Learn more by reading Semwal, V. B.; Mondal, K.; & Nandi G. C. (March 2017). "Robust and accurate feature selection for humanoid push recovery and classification: Deep learning approach." Neural Computing & Applications. Vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 565-574.

Chemical Reactions: For chemical reactions or changes in solutions that might influence opacity, light intensity observed through or reflected back from the solution can provide a measure of how far the reaction has gone. While other methods of enzyme activity have historically relied on fluorescence, this method requires only a light source and a light meter.

Learn more by reading Zarzar, L.; Kalow, J.; Xinping, H.; Walish, J.; & Swager, T. (7 March 2017). "Optical visualization and quantification of enzyme activity using dynamic droplet lenses." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi: 10.1073.pnas.1618807114. USA.

Green Technology: Accelerometers are useful in determining the efficiency of moving vehicles, be they public buses, solar cars, or bicycles. However, one potential problem with green technology is that the use of alternative fuels leads to quieter (or no) engines, which can be dangerous for pedestrians. Some potential solutions include the use of false engine noises and sound intensity testing with sound meters to see if pedestrians can be primed to avoid dangerous encounters with the vehicles.

Learn more by reading Chang, K.-H. & Bassue, J. (21 February 2017). "Green Tricycle Design through Experiential Learning - An Open Courseware Enriching Engineering Curriculum and Entrepreneurship." Computer-Aided Design and Applications.

Check out these student research projects:

Department of Mechanical Engineering: University of Nevada, Reno. (March 2017). "Capstone Projects: Team 11." USA.


De Baets, A. (2016). "Meting en analyse acceleratie van snelle elekttrische fietsen." Master's Thesis. Department of Industrial Engineering, Ku Leuven. Belgium.

Modern Physics: Optical gyroscopes take advantage of relativist effects: the relationship between a coil of optical fiber spinning in space and the speed of light travelling through it (which remains constant). Mechanical smartphone gyroscopes can be used to measure the physical rotation of the coil.

Learn more by reading Srivastava, S.; Rao D. S., S.; & Nandakumar, H. (3 October 2016). "Novel optical gyroscope: proof of principle demonstration and future scope." Scientific Reports. Vol. 6, article no. 34634.

Social Behavior: How humans move in rhythm to one another in social gatherings with music correlates to the song's popularity.

Learn more by reading Ellamil, M.; Berson, J.; Wong, J.; Buckley, L.; & Margulies, D. (20 October 2016). "One in the dance: Musical correlates of group synchrony in a club environment." PLoS ONE. 11(10). England/Germany.

Supporting research and industry is one of Vieyra Software's goals for our Physics Toolbox apps. If you are an educator or researcher, please let us know what we can do to support your work!

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